Updated: Apr 11, 2020
How to launch lean
You have something to put out into the world and you’re excited to launch into a launch.
Launches can be incredibly intimidating, so it’s natural to look to the experts in your field who are crushing it for inspiration.
Inspiration is great, but imitation is where the trouble starts.
It starts when a potential client says “I want a launch like Amy Porterfield’s.”
I take a deep breath, before launching into why that just won’t work.
“But, why can't I launch like the big names? I want big results”
Those big results come from launching, learning, optimizing, launching over and over again.
I’d like to run like Usain Bolt, but even if you give me his exact shoes and I run his precise training schedule, I’m not going to come anywhere close to his worst time.
Same goes with launches.
You aren’t going to enjoy the same results as Amy with her launch strategy unless you have:
✅ Amy’s credibility and reach
✅ Amy’s rock-solid proven offer
✅ Amy’s perfected positioning and messaging
✅ Amy’s budget
✅ Amy’s team
Notice how these are all AMY’s?
It’s not the sales page or the email sequences on their own that make the magic happen, it’s the X-factor.
X factor: a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome. (Oxford Dictionary)
Beware The Plug-And-Play Launch Trap
We need to address the elephant in the room - swipes and plug-and-play launch strategies.
There has been a rise in the number of these out there and they’re often thrown in as bonuses with programs.
“Buy my program and I'll give you the exact funnel/sales page/emails/etc., we used for our 7-figure launch.”
Now, we get it if you’ve been tempted because using a plug-and-play strategy may seem like:
A magic bullet to launch success
The only way to launch for someone who hasn’t launched before
A blueprint to replicating someone else’s launch success
Again, unless it comes with those other key ingredients, the recipe alone is not going to yield the results you’re hungry for.
It’s a recipe for disappointment.
First off, magic bullets don’t exist, and you’ll:
Include components you don’t necessarily need
Miss out on the bits you really need
Spend more time and money than necessary
Can they work sometimes?
Of course. Similar to putting our friend Usain in a different pair of shoes, he’ll still be fast because he has a proven track record. (Groan)
Strategy changes with scale.
Also, scaling takes time.
Let’s look at the last B-School launch as an example.
This isn’t her first rodeo.
Marie has launched every single year for over a decade.
Yes, you read that right, every year for over TEN years.
That means that with each launch the strategy has been refined and is constantly evolving.
She also has 6-figure budgets, $30k ad spends, and 40-people teams to execute the launches.
Add to that the years invested into nurturing her audience and building authority.
I’m going to guess that your budget, team, and audience are like Marie’s.
If you do have a 6-figure budget, more power to you. But, be warned. That's just one piece of the launch budget. Big ad spend does not equal big sales results. That's an article for another day.
So, different ingredients require a different recipe.
Your launch needs to be different too.
Your launch strategy needs to be tailored to the opportunities and constraints specific to your business.
That’s where Minimum Viable Launches (MVL) come in.
What are Minimum Viable Launches (MVL)?
A Minimum Viable Launch is a starter launch.
Just like Usain Bolt’s first race wasn’t an Olympic run, your offer needs a place to hit its stride too.
Minimum Viable Launches test whether an offer will actually sell.
They also provide important insight about the most efficient ways to promote your launch (hello, optimized ad spend).
Add to that a sprinkle of audience building and data about their specific needs.
It’s a leverage and support approach to launching.
MVLs build up your strategy in iterations.
Your strategy is based on the opportunities available to your business (like a great referral network, or an upcoming interview) and the limitations you face (like a small budget or team).
Long before we put a name to it, we would execute launches that used minimum capital with maximum results, while collecting as much data as possible to improve the next launch.
Over time, we started calling them Minimum Viable Launches.
Planning a Minimum Viable Launch
The process is as easy as 1-2-3.
PHASE I: Pre-Launch
The most cliché metaphor in the book for a launch is...you guessed it, a rocket launch.
But I like it.
Now, engineers don’t just wake up one Monday morning and decide to launch a rocket (or a turbo-powered snail) into space.
Years (if not decades) of careful design and planning go into it.
This planning is the pre-launch phase.
If this stage goes right, then the chances of a successful launch is high.
When rushed, overlooked, or overplanned then the chances of a successful liftoff become significantly lower.
And while your launch is unlikely to take more than a few weeks to plan, your pre-launch phase is crucial.
During pre-launch, you need to consider demand, offer, and reach.
This is a gauge of how hot people are for what you’re going to launch.
A few questions to consider are:
Have people bought this before?
Have people been asking you for this offer?
Will your offer solve an actual problem that your audience faces?
Is your offer in the best form for your audience to take advantage of it?
Successful launches offer something people already need or want.
Too often we see too much money spent on an offer that hasn’t been validated.
That leads to a lot of frustration and disappointment that can be avoided with MVLs.
There are two key things to consider - Awareness and Ability.
An introduction to audience awareness
There are four stops on the audience awareness scale. These align with the customer journey.
Not familiar with a Customer Awareness journey? Here’s a quick recap:
If your audience is Unaware, they don’t really even know they even have a problem.
If they’re Problem Aware, then they know they have a problem, but don't know what the solution is or if it even exists.
When your audience is Solution Aware they know they have a problem, and they know there’s a solution out there that gets them the results they want, but they just don’t know about your product (yet!).
If they’re Product Aware, they know they have a problem, and they know that you have a solution for it.
Where does your audience fall on the awareness spectrum?
Your strategy will vary depending on where your audience falls.
For example, if your audience is Unaware, then you’re going to need a longer funnel, potentially with a webinar and extra nurture sequences.
Let’s borrow Susan on the Rock from our blog post on improving conversion.
Susan’s the ultimate digital marketing cliché, selling a course teaching people to get rich quick while living that #laptoplife.
She wants a quick launch so she hits with the hard sale, and a ton of urgency.
But what if Susan’s prospects have never heard of online business?
Their initial reaction is going to look a little like this:
If your audience is unaware, you need to take the time to educate them. That looks like webinars, nurture emails, and supplementary blog posts.
But what if Susan’s prospects are 20-somethings looking to travel full time and make an income?
(Aka they’re both problem aware, and solution aware)
Susan can hit them with a few emails and a checkout page with testimonials and she’ll be golden.
Next up is ability.
No we’re not talking about their ability to execute a perfect downward dog.
We’re referring to your audience’s ability to pony up the cash for your offer.
Many gurus and coaches say to ‘charge what you’re worth.’ That’s not bad advice but it’s only part of the equation.
The sweet spot for pricing lies between what your offer is worth, your profit margins, and your market’s ability to pay.
Back in 2018, we explored partnering with a university to offer a group program for students who wanted to start their own business.
At $150/month for 4 months, it was at the lower end of what made sense for us financially, but I started my business as a fresh grad and wanted to do something to support that audience.
Initial market testing showed us that the target audience couldn’t support the pricing, so we scrapped it and filed away the data for a time when we can offer something more suitable for that target audience.
That may sound harsh, but if we hadn’t done that market testing I would have ended upside down on the project. Meaning it would have COST me money.
And while we’re talking about ability, also consider factors like time. If you’re targeting moms, then a high-touch 3 calls a week mastermind might not fly off the shelves.
You can have the greatest offer in the world, but if it’s out of reach for your audience, you’re not going to see sales.
Reach (AKA Your Audience)
Let’s start by defining reach real quick.
Reach is the number of people who fit your Ideal Client Avatar (ICA) that you can engage with organically (aka without paid traffic).
So, how do you determine reach?
To start, look at your email list to see how many people who are your ICA, open, and clicking-through when you send emails.